Winning Cause wins the Cliff Hanger Stakes.

Winning Cause wins the Cliff Hanger Stakes.


Winning Cause Ends String in Cliff Hanger

Alto Racing's 4-year-old resists fast-closing Big Blue Kitten to score at Monmouth.

Winning Cause, getting an ideal stalking trip from jockey Eddie Castro, staved off odds-on choice Big Blue Kitten  to win the $103,000 Cliff Hanger Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) Aug. 24 on turf at Monmouth Park, halting a 10-race losing skid.

Trained by Todd Pletcher for Gil Moutray and Eddie Harrell's Alto Racing, the 4-year-old Giant's Causeway  colt defeated Big Blue Kitten by half a length while completing the 1 1/8-mile test in a strong 1:46.16 over firm turf.

Bettors could see only Big Blue Kitten, the winner of the United Nations (gr. IT) over the Monmouth course in July 2013, who was 4-5 in the field of seven older turf competitors.

Big Blue Kitten dropped out to last for six furlongs as Winning Cause raced third, perched on the outside of pacesetter Plainview before engaging for the lead coming out of the far turn and getting the lead in the stretch. Winning Cause opened up a clear advantage near midstretch, then dug in for the final sixteenth as the late-charging Big Blue Kitten closed in for Joe Bravo.

Under right-handed urging from Castro, Winning Cause reached the wire in time to post a mild upset at odds of 9-2 in the field of seven older turf competitors.

"I just sat back and got my horse relaxed," said Castro. "Around the turn, I started to make my move and I looked back and saw that I had the jump on Big Blue Kitten and just rode hard to the wire."

Plainview, after posting comfortable quarter mile fractions of :23.47, :47.18, and 1:10.27, held on for third under Edgar Prado, one length behind Big Blue Kitten.

Winning Cause shipped to New Jersey for the Cliff Hanger from Saratoga Race Course, where he was coming off a close fourth-place effort as the 9-10 pick in the restricted John's Call Stakes at 1 5/8 miles Aug. 1. He scored the second graded stakes win of his career Sunday following the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III) in April 2013 at Keeneland.

Overall, Winning Cause has a record of 5-7-2 from 22 starts, good for earnings of $556,274.

Bred in Kentucky by Galleria Bloodstock, Winning Cause is out of the winning Kingmambo mare Raffishing Look. He brought $200,000 when purchased by Steven W. Young, agent, at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale in 2012 out of the De Meric Sales consignment. Nick De Meric, agent, bought the chestnut colt for $115,000 at the 2001 Keeneland September yearling sale when offered by Paramount Sales, agent.

Winning Cause is the first stakes winner for his dam, who is a half sister to grade III winner Society Hostess.

Carrying 117 pounds, the winner paid $11, $4.80, and $2.80 as the third choice in the compact field. Dual grade I winner Big Blue Kitten returned $2.40 and $2.10 in his second start of the year for trainer Chad Brown. The exacta was worth $37. Plainview paid $2.80 to show.

Guys Reward finished fourth, followed by Michael With Us, Calvados, and Vitium.